Remaining Team: A Closer Look with Mark Miller
WHBC Image

And then there were 6 – area teams left in the playoffs that is – Green, Lake, Massillon, McKinley, South, West Branch. Unfortunately, 2 games have both local teams playing so the most we can hope for in the 4th round is 4 teams. So go Green and McKinley – we will remain unbiased in the other two games. Last week our radio broadcast game was Canton South hosting Akron Buchtel. Poochie Snyder’s grandma Shari again provided a tray of pastries that any bakery would be envious of. I took a pumpkin muffin home for my wife and she loved it! Thanks Grandma Poochie (and to Grandpa Roger for delivering)!

The game was very competitive with fine athletes all over the field for both teams. It came down to a potential game-tying extra point that made the difference. South blocked it and the Wildcats won by 1 point. Let’s dig into how the block occurred.

I noticed in the stats my colleague Denny Kincaid provided with us before the game that their kicker had many touchbacks on kickoffs and a 49 yard made field goal so it was obvious he had a strong kicking leg. We also noticed his percentage of made PAT’s was not very high. That told me he had a strong leg but not an accurate one. So, during the Stadium Show with Billy Beebe, I kept an eye on the kicker as he warmed up. Indeed the indicators were true – very strong leg but very inconsistent. Actually, some of his
kicks came out sideways, like the blades on a helicopter. I also noticed he took 3-4 steps in approaching the ball. (Most kickers are 1-2-kick). This allowed him to kick placements almost like a kickoff with a run- up to hit the ball harder. It also took him longer to get to the ball. I made the comment (apparently several times as Billy would later say) that South had a chance to block a kick tonight. There are basically two ways to block a placement (PAT or FG) kick – from the middle by getting penetration and
jumping high, hoping the kick has a low trajectory, or secondly, off the edge with a speed guy coming around the end to block it just after it is kicked. In the game leading up to the final kick, Buchtel’s kicker made all his PAT’s and missed a long FG try. But on the kick that would have tied the game, South had a guy in the middle jump high enough to deflect the low kick and it was no good. In the post-game interview South’s Head Coach Matt Dennison told us he thought they had a chance to block a kick in this game and it came at the perfect time to send the Wildcats into round 3 of the playoffs.

Special teams are so important. Most fans concentrate on offense and defense but it seems big plays in the kick game mean the difference between winning and losing more than the other phases of a football game.

See you Friday! Go Stark County!